Don't Hate Will.i.am: He's STEM's Biggest Champ

Posted by Liz Dwyer

will.i.am
Still cursing Will.i.am for penning "My Humps"? You're probably not alone. Tuesday night critics on Twitter threw major shade at CNN for picking Will.i.am as one of their Democratic National Convention pundits. ESPN writer David Hale tweeted, "MSNBC: great speeches! FOX: bad speeches! CNN: 'We're here with pop star Will I Am for his thoughts...' *sigh*."

Well, folks can hate all they want but in his post-DNC commentary on Tuesday night, the Black Eyed Peas frontman used his time in the spotlight to talk about why science, technology, engineering, and math is so critical to our nation's future.

The next thing you know, STEM was one of Twitter's top trending topics in the United States. Yes, a social media platform that's inclined to #BieberForever or #BestVideoGameEver trending topics started talking about STEM—all because of Will.i.am.

Will.i.am's STEM obsession isn't a new thing. He connected last year with Segway inventor and FIRST robotics competition founder Dean Kamen and got inspired to make STEM "geeks and nerds" the "coolest people on the planet". Still, skeptics see Will.i.am's partnering with NASA to beam his latest song "Reach for the Stars," from the Mars Rover Curiosity back to earth—or being on CNN—as typical celeb attention seeking.

While it's easy to be cynical and figure Will.i.am's manager is just really savvy at getting his client chosen for historical moments, what's refreshing is that Will.i.am is clearly getting people to pay attention to the issue—STEM—that he cares about. Sure, the Mars Rover Curiosity is cool, but weeks after it landed on the red planet—and news cycles being what they are—would the media have paid attention to it last week if not for Will.i.am beaming a song from it? Dig a little deeper and you'll find out that the event was the launch of his foundation's initiative with Discovery Education to bring more STEAM—STEM plus art—to schools. 

After the Twitter backlash Will.i.am tweeted that "peoples ignorance and lack of focus can be discouraging when you do community work...but that aint ganna stop me...#reachforthestars." He then went on to point out, "If there are no jobs in america today...2022 will be worse because the average 15year old is getting no #stem edu. & the future is tech."

This morning it was clear Will.i.am isn't letting the haters stop him. He paid a visit to the CBS This Morning show to talk politics, robotics, and plans to get a STEM school up and running in Boyle Heights, the low income Los Angeles community where he grew up.

"This year, I'm executing the concept of 'Yes We Can,' going back to the ghetto that I come from and putting a STEM school in my neighborhood to get these kids prepared for 2022," he said. "I can use my efforts and my reach and my life to change the community that I come from in hopes to mold a Mark Zuckerberg from Boyle Heights."

Go ahead, keep on hating "My Humps", but we have to give credit where it's due. Will.i.am isn't just talk. He's genuinely putting his belief in STEM into action. We wish more celebrities would do the same.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons